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Who owns your domain name?

I often get asked, "Do I own my Domain Name?"

The short answer is yes, and what is really important is ensuring all the details are correct. Here's a brief overview of the terminology associated with a domain name:

  • The registrar - the company, authorised by the NZ Domain Name Commission, to register the domain name. I use Rocketspark for most of my client's domain names. Other well known ones are 1st Domains, Freeparking, Domains 4 Less.
  • The registrant -  the owner of the domain name. That should be you.
  • The admin contact - the person who receives the invoice for the domain name, this might be you, or it might be the website designer or hosting company.
  • The technical contact - again, this could be you, your web designer, your host or the registrar. The technical contact will sort out technical issues.

Where problems with domain names occur

People can fall for the trap of going with a 'Big Name Company' to purchase their domain name and website hosting because they offer really cheap hosting rates.  Unfortunately I see this on a regular basis; where the domain name purchase is actually outsourced to someplace random

This can create big issues, especially if you are looking to move your domain name to another provider or to sell your business.  And, if you have a .com domain name things can get even more complicated as they often need to be 'unlocked' before a transfer can occur.

We regularly bring over new clients who have worked with other website designers, these are some of the issues we have encountered:

  • The Company they chose to use put the domain in their name, has gone out of business, and they aren't replying to calls or emails, or
  • The Company is overseas, the domain is registered to someone in India and they aren't replying to calls or emails, or
  • The Company happily sends a UDAI code (to transfer the domain), it doesn't work so they send another, that doesn't work either, we do a little hunting and find out the domain is held by someone in Norway (no one knows why), and then we can't reach anyone, or 
  • The registration details are incorrect - exacerbated by the fact no one is replying to calls or emails. 

The impact of this is that it can be time consuming and problematic obtaining ownership of, or transfer details for, their domain name.

You should legally own your domain name

Having legal ownership and therefore access to your domain name means you have control over:

  • Managing email accounts
  • Handing problems with hosting
  • Accessing your website files
  • Renewing your domain name
  • Transferring your domain name - especially important if you are planning to sell your business, have an ecommerce site, or a large online following.

It is vitally important you know who you purchased your domain name with, and I highly recommend using a trusted New Zealand based company to do so.

Check you own your domain name at the NZ Domain Name Commission website, and if not take steps now to help prevent future problems.


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